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Land of castles

Silhouettes of the past erected on the peaks

“Every Alsatian can tell you at least one legend or anecdote about a castle… As a child, I remember some lengthy discussions with my classmates about the legendary secret passages allegedly dug out under Hugstein castle. The castle’s ruins overlook Guebwiller and Buhl…”

Alsace is one of the regions of Europe boasting the highest number of fortified castles. Travelling along the wine route, you can see these silhouettes from the past standing on peaks and rocky headlands.

“A signposted track takes walkers and mountain bikers all over Alsace, from one ancient castle to another.”


To visit the castle remains of the Guebwiller region, you’ll need a pair of good walking shoes… By their very nature, these castles built for defence and observation purposes are located in the mountains on rocky outcrops.
A signposted track takes walkers and mountain bikers all over Alsace, from one ancient castle to another.


These are the most legendary of all the castle remains in the Guebwiller region. The ruins overlook the valley above Buhl and Guebwiller, at the entrance to the little Murbach valley. Hugstein’s origins date back to the 13th century, when Murbach Abbey was at the height of its fortune and glory and attracted plenty of attention. It is said the castle was built by Abbot Hugo de Rothenbourg, who also commissioned several other fortifications in order to protect the abbey from attack. The castle was extended two centuries later by the Prince-Abbot Barthélémy d’Andlau. This character left his mark on history thanks to his vast culture, but the valley’s inhabitants believed him to have evil powers, confirmed by the legend surrounding his death. They say he was strangled by a black cat in his Hugstein castle…


On the other side of the valley, the Hohrupf ruins cling to a rock at a height of 813 metres. Even though there are only some vague vestiges of the old keep, you won’t regret climbing the steep little path up to the abbey of Hohrupf. From the top there’s a magnificent view over the Alsace plain, the Black Forest, the Alps and the Florival valley to the East, and Petit Ballon to the West. Definitely one of my favourite spots!

A brochure all about Hugstein castle is available free of charge from Guebwiller Tourist Office. Audioguide tracks available for download on

“To explore other medieval remains, including the ruins of Freundstein castle between the Amic Pass and the Hartmannswillerkopf, a hiking guide devoted to itineraries with fortified castles and published by the “Pays d’Art et d’Histoire” of the Region of Guebwiller, is on sale at the Tourist Office (€3). It covers five hikes lasting between 3 and 5 1/2 hours. These itineraries are also available at